The Cornell Law Library is a unique place; did you know it is part of Cornell’s main library? It is. It is also home to the Legal Research Institute which provides full text of the U.S. Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other sources of primary law. They also provide something that I just discovered and is now the newest tool in my research tool-box: the Legal Research Engine.
The Legal Research Engine is a simple page with four search boxes; 1) Find Legal Research Guides, 2) Search the Legal Internet, 3) Search Academic Blawgs, and 4) I Want it All!. This is really an elegant lay- out by virtue of the search engine focusing the search before it has even commenced. The searches contemplated in the boxes for Legal Research Guides and Academic Blawgs are obvious, but they make interesting choices (my one caveat is that the Academic Blawgs do not include our own Nota Bene). If you are looking for a guide to researching a particular area of law, or are looking for comments on a breaking legal news story these are excellent resources and they solve problems that crop up quite often. The box for Search the Legal Internet is really a search of InSITE, a current awareness service developed by Cornell law librarians who select and evaluate legal web sites. I made a brief examination of InSITE and it is interesting. Cornell’s law librarians have searched the internet for law related web postings and have abstracted them and then categorized the postings by practice area. InSITE is definitely worth a future blog post of its own. I find the final search box, “I Want it All!” a little out of place. While the other search boxes are all law related (of course) they are really gateways to very specific information. While being able to search across these disparate areas is nice, it lacks the focus that the other three search boxes possess.